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Business Law: Legislation process

Resources for legal research, writing and referencing.

Legislation

Extrinsic material

Extrinsic materials help you to understand, define or interpret the intent of legislation. For example:

  • An explanatory memorandum relating to the Bill
  • Second reading speeches
  • Records of parliamentary debates (Hansard) and Votes and Proceedings
  • Treaties and international agreements
  • Parliamentary committee reports
  • Reports of Law Reform Commissions and Royal Commissions

Legislation

Acts, Amending Acts and subordinate legislation are found freely online on official Commonwealth and state websites such as:

Past volumes of Acts, amending Acts and current Acts can also be found in print in many libraries. Regulations are also published in Government Gazettes.

  • AustLII provides free accesss to legislation and case law but, please remember that it is not an official site and legislation may not be as current as on official websites

For more information see the subtab Australian legislation

To understand Australian law, you must know how to find and interpret current and point-in-time legislation passed by either Commonwealth or State Parliaments .

Legislation is laws made by Parliament and comprise :

  • Acts (also called statutes) which may be amended later by Amending Acts or Amendments.
  • Subordinate or delegated legislation (including regulations, rules, by-laws, ordinances, orders and legislative instruments) drafted by authorised bodies such as government departments, local councils, universities etc.

Before legislation is enacted, a Bill or proposed Act is introduced to Parliament and must be debated and passed by both houses of Parliament before being assented to by the Governor (Australian states) or Governor-General (Commonwealth). It will then come into force on a particular date. Anexplanatory memorandum accompanies a Bill and explains the effects.

Hansard or parliamentary debates are the records of the debates in each house of Parliament of either the Commonwealth or state governments.

Bills, Hansard, explanatory memoranda and second reading speeches are categorised as extrinsic material (as opposed to primary and secondary sources of information).  

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Finding bills and parliamentary debates

Changes to the law are always being proposed and debated. In general a Bill, its Explanatory Memorandum, parliamentary debates (Hansard) and Second Reading Speeches are to be found through parliamentary websites.

For example:

Parliament

Parliament House,Canberra by Wilson Afonso Attribution

Types of Acts

In general, there are different types of Acts:

Principal Act - the original Act passed by Government. Also called a Numbered Act or Sessional Act

Amending Acts  or amendments - these Acts make changes to the Principal Act and should be read together with the Principal Act

Reprinted Acts or reprints - incorporate in the Principal Act all the changes made by Amending Acts. Online, these are called consolidations or compilations

Acts in force - acts that have become part of law and deemed operational

Ceased Acts - legislation that is no longer in forcehaving been repealed, expired, revoked or superseded